Topical and Doctrinal Notes
Leading Thought: Solomon's Wisdom
I love to think of the story of young Solomon when, after he had become king, he went to Gibeon, where the Lord appeared to him in a dream, and told him to ask what He should give him. And Solomon did not ask for money, or long life, or honor, or the punishment of his enemies - but asked for a "hearing heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad." A "hearing heart" means a wise and understanding love. And you will remember that the Lord was greatly pleased with Solomon's wish and gave him what he asked for, and in addition to this promised him honor and riches and long life. (1 Kings 3:5-14)
Our present chapter tells us the story of the fulfillment of the Lord's promise. Solomon was so wise that people came from far and near to propose questions and enigmas, or hard sayings, and they also brought him great wealth.
Since Solomon cared more for wisdom than for the wealth, let us do the same, and so let us find out wherein his wisdom consisted. If we turn back to chapter 4:29-34, where his great wisdom is spoken of, we read that "he spoke of trees, from the cedars that are in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that cometh out of the wall; he spoke also of beasts and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. Therefore there came of all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon."
His wisdom then consisted in his being able to tell how these trees grow, the spiritual force that produces them, and therefore the spiritual correspondence of each object in nature. These were "enigmas" to the people at that time, for they had forgotten most of the science of correspondences.
But does wisdom consist merely in knowing what trees and animals correspond to? Am I wise if I know that the olive tree corresponds to the highest and best of all loves, the love of heavenly goodness; that the grapevine corresponds to the next highest love, the love of heavenly truth; and that the fig tree corresponds to the love of doing and saying good things? This is part of wisdom. But I am not fully wise until I cultivate these loves in myself. Solomon, remember, was given "a wise and understanding heart."
Let us understand this rightly. Wisdom consists not so much in knowing how to name plants and animals, and to be able to tell them when one sees them, to know what use to make of them, to know what their organs are, to be interested in the habits of animals, etc. - there are hundreds of books that are published nowadays that do all this, and they are very good and interesting, but they do not impart wisdom.
Wisdom is to be interested in the things of one's soul. There are so many and such beautiful things in the soul, that all things in nature are not enough to picture them forth. All natural objects correspond to spiritual things. To know these things in your soul; to know the different kinds of love you have - the love of the church, the love for your country, the love for your parents, the love for your playmates, the love for your studies, the love for your games, etc. - and the different kinds of thoughts you have about how to show these various loves - to judge of them whether they be good or bad, and to shun the bad, and strengthen the good - all this is to be wise.
And such wisdom makes one happy. For this reason we read in today's lesson that the wisdom of Solomon made the queen of Sheba so happy that she realized the great privilege all those enjoyed who were with Solomon, and she exclaimed, "Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, who stand before thee continually, and hear thy wisdom."
In today's grand story we have a picture of heaven. The angels in heaven have all the wealth they can possibly enjoy. Every angel has a beautiful home, most beautifully decorated, and with the handsomest ornaments, and surrounded by a charming garden. The air is sweeter and purer than any you ever breathed in this world, and the sunlight more brilliant. Their dresses are softer, finer and more becoming than dresses can be made on earth. They have all the gold and silver and gems they want. And yet, though they enjoy all this, it is not really what makes them happy. Their wisdom, their loving service of others, this is what makes them happy.
The glory of Solomon, then, consisted primarily in wisdom, his wise and understanding heart; his magnificent houses and great wealth were only secondarily his glory.